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Porter named director of Darwin Project

By Sally Harris

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 14 - December 4, 1997

Duncan M. Porter, professor of botany in the biology department, has been named director of the Darwin Correspondence Project.
The Darwin Correspondence Project is publishing the more than 15,000 letters that Charles Darwin is known to have written and received. Two editions of a calendar of the letters have been published (1985, 1994), as have 10 volumes of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin (1985-1997), Charles Darwin's Letters: A Selection, 1825-1859 (1996), and a calendar of the German letters (1996).
The project is based at the Cambridge University Library, and there are offices in Bennington, Vt., and Blacksburg. The project is funded through the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) in the United States by the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Pew Charitable Trusts. In England, funding is by the Wellcome Trust, the Isaac Newton Trust, the British Academy, the Royal Society, and the National Environmental Research Council.
Before becoming project director, Porter served from 1991 until 1997 as senior editor. In this capacity, he helped edit volumes eight-10 of the correspondence. Editing of volume 11 will be completed by the end of the year, and volumes 12 and 13 are in the early stages of editing. Because of the large number of letters, each volume now includes those of a single year, and two of the years will take up two volumes each. When complete, the edition is expected to number 32 volumes.
In addition, Porter has edited The Portable Darwin (1993), with Peter Graham, professor of English at Virginia Tech.
The Darwin Correspondence Project was begun in 1974 by Frederick Burkhardt, retired president of the ACLS, and the late Sydney Smith of the Department of Zoology at Cambridge University. Burkhardt has moved from project director to general editor.